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INTERACTIVE (Rate the Review)

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance
of things, but their inner significance." ~ Aristotle

Cinema Signal: A miserable film. Red light. MOBILE version |
. "Whiplash"

A more distasteful rendering of character and story I can't begin to imagine.

This tortuous film has a one-note plot: Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons, "Labor Day"), a music teacher at an elite east coast conservatory where competition is in the DNA, discovers Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller, "The Spectacular Now"), a jazz drumming student with feverish ambitions to be recognized for his greatness. Driven by a similar passion to receive accolades for his superior judgement in recognizing young talent, Fletcher invites Andrew into his band.

There, the dual obsession to excel progresses into a blind brutality in the teacher's attacks on his student, madly thinking this is the way to lead the boy to his utmost potential. But, the instructor has lost it! His demands rise to merciless and nasty even as his screaming level goes into meter overload. Enhancement of talent is lost in the vapors of all the tongue lashing.

What we're witnessing here is a teaching method from hell -- 106 minutes about a drill sergeant who loses self control over himself and, consequently, over his troops until he goes off the deep end.

This teacher isn't instructing; he's heading his prize student to the loony bin. And if there ever was a music teacher upon whom writer-director Damien Chazelle based this character, I would hope he's no longer setting foot in a classroom.

The opportunity lost is Simmons'. One of the most active supporting and commercials actors in the industry for more than twenty years, this was a rare shot at a leading role in a feature film. But the writing of a vacuous character who is called upon to screech his way through a plot is, I would expect, too barren and exaggerated to move him into leading roles because of it.

Teller, as the forlorn victim of such radical treatment in the name of musical training, carries his load and can be commended for his energy, actual drumming, and some sympathy.

At least this is my take on this film. I'm completely at a loss over why it's been so well received by the community of critics. I've been in the minority before but can't remember a time when my reaction to a film was so divergent. Makes me wonder if I missed something.

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                                                                              ~~  Jules Brenner  

Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Very well written
I've seen the movie and agree with the review
Site rating: 10

Spot on.

                                                           ~~ Roger Evans 
Off base

I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
It's a horror movie. If you don't get that, you shouldn't be in the business of writing reviews.

                                                           ~~ Richard B. Goode 
[Ed. note: Mr. Goode is correct; I don't get that. I think of a horror film as one that contains a supernatural element. Here, we have a case of mental imbalance. Exaggerated? Indeed. But not represented as supernatural. The only thing I found horrific about this film was watching it. READERS: What's your take? Should I pack it up and go fishing? ~ Jb]

Poorly written - Off base
I've seen the movie and disagree with the review
Site rating: 1

First of all, the goal of a film critic is not to judge whether this kind of teaching is good or not. What this has to do with the quality of the film? Second, this film raises so many feelings just by watching it. Even the fact that this critic forgets everything else and talks mostly about the teacher and his brutal teaching method, shows that the film actually succeed to bring a deep involvement of the viewer (the reviewer here) with these characters.

                                                           ~~ Apollonia Tsanta 

[Ed. note: I'm of the opinion that discussing the nature and credibility of a character's behavior is entirely appropriate in a review as it applies to one of the most important contributions to a movie -- the writing. This reader doesn't allow me to judge this character's kind of teaching when that's what the story is about?.]

Well written
This review will influence me to read more by this reviewer
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
My rating for the site is: 10

I don't even know where to begin. Formulaic. Predictable. But above all: LAZY! The tight shots to dupe us into thinking JK can cross over from t.v. and insurance commercials to "artsy, indy" films. And so much of the dialogue wasn't even that! It was just slinging crude insults and bad language . . . again, I go back to the word, "lazy." That's my overall impression of this film. And low budget. Because of their laziness, and the tight shots that were part of that, this really amounted [to] nothing more than a film school project. Complete lack of character development. The only redeeming quality was the music.

                                                           ~~ Clare 

[Ed. note: And yet, this film keeps piling on awards and honors. We who see it with a critical eye are SO outnumbered!]

Perceptive
This review will influence me to read more by this reviewer
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 5

The redundancy of the abuse shown in this movie is disgusting. My anxiety level was at its pinnacle by the time I exited the theater. What a horrible movie.

                                                           ~~ Maloch Gavagan 
Very well written
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review

It is very disturbing to see a movie that promotes the idea that it is OK to destroy 100 (pick a number) kids to promote one kid's genius. I did not expect that at the end of a movie, Mr. Fletcher would emerge as a hero...

                                                           ~~ gail weinstein 
Off base
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site rating: 1

                                                           ~~ Elbmuh 
Well written
This review will influence me to recommend this reviewer
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 10

The screenplay is weak, and the story itself is completely implausible. This man would have been fired for this behavior in the real world. This film glorifies sadistic bullying.

                                                           ~~ SUSAN M. BURNS 
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site rating: 1

great movie and sick to see someone earn money with writing reviews, who doesnt feel a good movie when he sees one.

                                                           ~~ philbird 
Off base
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site rating: 10

Your instincts are right Jules,you are missing something!

                                                           ~~ L.donald Smith 
Off base
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site rating: 8

As the reviewer clearly states that he feels he was missing something: he was. He absolutely did not get this movie. It feels he watched it preconceived though. His loss. I haven't seen a movie like this for a long time, I watched the whole thing with my fist clenching, sitting on the edge of my seat.

                                                           ~~ Orsi 
Perceptive
I've seen the movie and I agree with the review
Site rating: 8

Ridiculous story. Most critics must believe that Ike Turner and Michael Jackson's father are to be congratulated!

                                                           ~~ Gary 
[Ed. note: If you've sent a comment and don't see it here it's probably because sender's Name and eMail address were not included; The only other reason is language. To see our guidelines please click the opinion button above this section. Thnx.]


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Miles Teller as the victim and J.K Simmons as the tyrant
in the destruction of a student's dream.

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